When to Get Another Credit Card (If Ever)

Credit cards play a significant role in your financial life—from establishing credit to being a financial lifeline during times of crisis. But before you add another credit card to your wallet, consider your buying habits and financial strategies. Here are some key questions to help you decide if another credit card is right for you.

When You’re Looking for a Rewards Card 

Looking to cash in on cash back? It might be a good time for a new card – especially if you already have excellent credit. (Most of the best rewards cards are only issued to users who have at least a good credit score). 

As you’re considering different rewards cards, make sure you:

  • Know what kinds of rewards you’d like the most. Have a trip coming up? Want to earn rewards on everyday purchases, like gas and groceries? You want to choose the credit card that aligns best with your upcoming spending plans. 
  • Pause before committing to an annual fee. Some rewards cards, not all, charge an annual fee. This isn’t always a deal breaker – if you can confidently earn that annual fee back in value, then go for it. Otherwise there are plenty of other options that don’t charge an annual fee. 
  • Check for sign-up bonuses. Not every card offers these but they can be a nice perk. Overall, choosing a card that gives you the rewards and benefits that fit your lifestyle and spending habits the best.

When You Got Your First Card More Than a Year Ago

If you’re a new cardholder, try holding off for one year before applying for another credit card. It can take anywhere from six months to a year for your card usage to affect your credit score. When you’re first starting out, it’s likely that you can only qualify for bad credit or starter credit cards, which tend to have fewer perks and higher interest rates. 

Without an established credit history, credit card issuers will be less likely to approve you for better quality credit cards. If you’ve had your credit card for less than a year, getting a new one may not be the best choice right now.

In the meantime, be patient. Use your current credit card regularly and pay on time and in full each month. Your payment history is the largest factor that determines your credit score. When you do apply for a second credit card, the lending company will see how responsible you’ve been and may be more likely to extend you credit with a lower interest rate.

When You’re Trying To Build Your Credit

Adding another credit card is an easy way to improve your credit utilization ratio, which could help your score. However, the most important part of building credit is using your existing accounts wisely. 

A new credit card could improve your credit utilization ratio in the short term, but hurt you in the long term if you rack up debt on another card. Also keep in mind that many credit card companies cancel inactive cards. So if you’re not consistently using each of your credit cards and one gets canceled, that could cause your score to dip. 

If you’re looking to improve or build up your credit, think about:

When You Want a Balance Transfer Credit Card to Tackle Debt

If you’re looking to pay down credit card debt, a balance transfer credit card might be a good idea. A balance transfer credit card typically offers a low or 0% introductory APR (annual percentage rate) for a set period, which can save you money on interest charges. It allows you to consolidate multiple debts into one payment, making it easier to manage your finances. 

However, there are also drawbacks to consider. Some balance transfer cards charge fees for transferring balances. And if you don’t pay off the transferred balance within the introductory period, you could end up with a higher interest rate than you had before. Make sure you read the terms and conditions before applying.

Ready to Apply? 

Once you’ve considered how your charging and payment habits can affect your credit score, you can determine if and when the time is right for you to get another credit card. 

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